In order to learn how to enjoy Christ by praying, we must drop the old way of prayer. Also, we should not pray for business affairs or personal concerns. Instead, pray to praise Him, to adore Him, to thank Him, to behold His beauty, and to inhale Him. Many times we have to pray by groaning, saying, “O Lord, O Lord...” This is the best prayer. Real prayer is not out of us so that the Lord would do something for us. Real prayer is the Spirit, who is Christ Himself, working and moving within us so that we would open to Him to breathe Him out and breathe Him in (see Hymns, #255). We must offer Him the free way to go out and to come in to express something of Himself.
To pray is not to take care of many things. To pray is to spiritually breathe the spiritual air, which is the Lord Himself. Day by day, even several times throughout each day, we have to learn to breathe the Lord as the spiritual air. Even while we are driving our car or cooking in the kitchen, we can breathe by calling from deep within, “O Lord.” This is the best prayer.
Revelation shows us that the saints’ prayers are the bowls (5:8) and the censer (8:3-4) that contain Christ as the incense. In our prayer there must be Christ as the incense. We have to burn the incense daily by offering prayers with Christ ascending to God. Christ is in us, and we need to have prayer as the censer, the bowls, the container, for the indwelling Christ as the incense. If we do not pray, we have Christ within us, but we do not have Him as the incense ascending to God. Proper prayer is not for our practical needs. Proper prayer is for the expression of Christ. We pray to express Christ, that is, to give the indwelling Christ the opportunity to be the incense to ascend to God and be expressed in our prayer.
Matthew 6:31 through 33 says, “Do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? For all these things the Gentiles are anxiously seeking. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We can even say to the Lord, “Lord, there is no need for me to pray for so many things. Matthew 6:31 through 33 says that You already know what I need.” If we are not at peace concerning our personal needs, we can remind the Lord to feed us and care for us according to His Word. We should simply seek the Lord Himself, His kingdom, and His righteousness. All that we need, the Lord will not only give to us but also add to us. We should learn to pray and seek the Lord Himself to behold His beauty.
Then we can go on to learn to inquire of the Lord. This means that we must learn to ask the Lord what we have to pray. Do not pray according to what you think that you have to pray, but ask the Lord what He wants you to pray in your prayer. Sometimes you may have to ask, “Lord, may I now pray for a certain friend? May I now pray for the preaching of the gospel?”
A good illustration of this is seen in Genesis 18 when the Lord came with two angels to visit Abraham. The Bible tells us that Abraham was the friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; James 2:23). The record in Genesis 18 shows that there was an intimate friendship between Abraham and the Lord. Abraham received the Lord as a friend, a guest, and he served the Lord (vv. 1-8). The Lord and Abraham had a mutual enjoyment. The Lord then asked Abraham, “Where is Sarah your wife?” (v. 9), and He told Abraham that his wife would have a son (v. 10). Abraham did not ask the Lord for a son in Genesis 18. Instead, he allowed the Lord to say something to him. We should not bring many things into our prayer to intrude into our fellowship with the Lord. We should behold the Lord and let Him enjoy us as we enjoy Him. We should let Him ask us something, as He asked Abraham, “Where is your wife?” Then we should let Him say something to us.
After the Lord’s fellowship with Abraham, the Lord and the two angels started to leave. Verse 16 says, “The men rose up from there and looked down upon Sodom. And Abraham walked with them to send them away.” Darby’s translation says, “Abraham went with them to conduct them.” This means that Abraham escorted them. This shows how Abraham treated the Lord as an intimate friend. It was as if he said, “Lord, are You leaving? I am sorry You are going, and I am not willing to leave You. Let me escort You for a certain distance.” Through Abraham’s escorting and conducting the Lord, the burden for intercession came out.
Verse 17 says, “Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” Verse 17 came out of Abraham’s escorting and conducting in verse 16. If Abraham would have just said, “See You again, Lord,” and would not have escorted the Lord for a distance, the Lord would not have had further fellowship with him. The Lord could not hide what He was going to do from His intimate friend. He had to let him know what He was about to do.
Then the Lord told Abraham that He was going to judge Sodom. Actually, at this time the Lord had a real burden for Lot, and He needed someone to pray for Lot. The Lord always needs some intercession so that He can do something for others. Through his fellowship with the Lord, Abraham came to know the Lord’s intention. Because they were intimate friends, there was no need for them to mention Lot by name.
Verses 22 and 23 say, “The men [the two angels] turned from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before Jehovah. And Abraham came near and said, Will You indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Even though the two angels left, Abraham was not willing to leave the Lord. He remained standing before the Lord for more intimate fellowship. Abraham began to intercede by asking the Lord if He would destroy the righteous with the wicked. This meant that he was praying for Lot. This shows that the burden for intercession comes from our contact with the Lord. Then the Lord reveals His heart to us, we know His intention, and His intention becomes our burden, which returns to the Lord as our intercession.
The Lord’s desired intention in His heart was to save Lot from Sodom, but the Lord needed someone to pray for Lot. Without someone to pray for Lot, the Lord could not act. This is the principle of incarnation. In the new creation, in the work of the Lord’s grace in salvation, there is always the need of incarnation. This means that there is always the need of someone to cooperate with the Lord. Then the Lord has the ground to do something. Genesis 19:29 indicates that when the Lord destroyed Sodom, He saved Lot to answer Abraham’s prayer.
After Abraham’s thorough fellowship with the Lord, Genesis tells us, “Jehovah went away as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place” (18:33). By reading Genesis 18, we can see that Abraham spoke, but verse 33 says that as soon as the Lord had ended His speaking to Abraham, He went away. This shows us that the best prayer is not that we speak to the Lord but that the Lord speaks to us. We should let the Lord end His speaking to us. Then we can say Amen to His speaking. We should ask, “When we ended our prayer and said Amen, did we end our speaking, or did the Lord end His speaking?”
Strictly speaking, the proper prayer is the Lord speaking through the one who prays. This is why we must learn to pray to behold His beauty and to inhale Him in order to express Him. If we do not know what to pray, we can groan, saying, “O Lord, I do not know how to pray or what to pray. O Lord...” Then we will have the best prayer.
We need to practice the fellowship in this chapter. We first must learn to read and pray over the Word. We also need to pray to behold the Lord and breathe the Lord as our spiritual air. Perhaps in the morning we can take ten or fifteen minutes for reading and praying over the Word. After this we need another time, perhaps five minutes, simply to pray. We should open ourselves to the Lord, look to Him, and seek His face to behold Him, adore Him, worship Him, praise Him, and thank Him. If we have some feeling within which we do not know how to express, we can groan before Him. If we practice this kind of living and intimate prayer, we will be nourished, refreshed, and strengthened by the Lord not only in the morning but also throughout the day.
We need to learn to pray in this way all the time. First Thessalonians 5:17 charges us to pray unceasingly. It is only by this way of prayer that we can unceasingly pray. To pray in this way is to breathe spiritually. No matter what we are doing, we can pray in the way of spiritual breathing. We should breathe unceasingly, no matter what we are doing. Then we will enjoy Christ continuously.
(The Enjoyment of Christ, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)